The Cost of Clean Rooms: Injury Risks for Hotel Housekeepers
Imagine walking into a hotel room, expecting pristine luxury, and discovering that the sheets are dirty, the bathtub is stained, and the towels are scattered all over the floor. Thanks to the diligent work of hotel housekeepers, most hotel guests are able to avoid this kind of disappointing and disgusting experience. But oftentimes, the effort put into spotless hotel rooms can have an unhealthy and dangerous impact on hotel housekeepers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 452,620 employers serving as housekeepers at hotels. Florida is home to 82,125 employees in the housekeeping industry, second only to California. The industry is overwhelming female, with women accounting for 85.9% of all housekeepers in the United States. On average, a hotel housekeeper in the United States makes about $21,800 a year. This is a tough wage to live on if they are supporting a family or pursuing an education.
Injury Risks for Hotel Housekeepers
Low wages aren’t the only issue that housekeepers face: they are also at a very high risk of injury. Housekeeping work, which includes everything from scrubbing toilets to changing sheets, might not seem strenuous. However, these everyday duties require a wide range of movements, including lifting, reaching, twisting, kneeling, and bending. When these movements are done for long periods of time, it puts stress on the body.
Among housekeepers, the most common injuries were strains and sprains, followed by cuts and bruises. Chemical exposure accounts for a smaller, yet still serious, amount of injuries. Housekeepers face exposure to cleaning supplies, like bleach, which causes irritation, respiration problem, and skin damage. Overall, the injury rate of housekeepers is 50% higher than the injury rate for other hotel professionals.
The Problem of Sexual Assault
There is also an increased risk of sexual harassment and violence, an issue that predominantly affects women in the United States. According to a recent article in Time, female housekeepers often find themselves the subject of unwanted attention and advances from hotel guests. This ranges from lewd jokes to physical contact. In the United States, the issue is so widespread that some hotels now equip housekeepers with “panic buttons,” used to alert the hotel of a guest’s unwarranted or threatening behavior.
Injured hotel housekeepers can receive compensation through Workers’ Compensation. It covers many injuries, but is more complicated when it comes to mental injuries, like anxiety that arises from harassment. Generally, for an injury to be compensable, it has to be a physical injury. Still, all injuries, including those arising from sexual assault or harassment, should be reported to the hotel’s management. The hotel should then take prompt steps to address the problem and keep their employees safe.
Their work might often be thankless and overlooked, but hotel housekeepers deserve the best care and attention from their employers. Whatever the issue, hotel housekeepers deserve to have their problems adequately addressed, so they can continue to feel safe and fulfilled in their job.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.